All Is Well

Kipper Key headed back to the racetrack for light jogging and is doing well.  There were no post race after-affects like we sometimes see: swollen ankle, maybe some stiffness.  All and all everything was solid.

He’ll jog and gallop for the next few weeks to stay fit.  Depending upon whether or not Clay feels like he needs a drill, he may get worked 4 furlongs to keep him sharp.

We are looking to enter him one more time before the end of the meet at Oaklawn, which is April 16.  Canterbury doesn’t start racing again until mid-May so holding him would certainly take an edge off his fitness.  The condition book for the last week of the meet isn’t out yet, so we’re not sure what races are going to be offered but we’d like to bring him back in a $7500 Starter Allowance (a race for horses that have started for $7500 or less and will also be ineligible to be claimed) so as not to risk a claim before we can get him home.  That said, if all we get offered is a $10,000 or $12,500 claiming race then that’s where we’ll have to go and hope for the best.

It’s certainly not the worst thing in the world to have a horse claimed away from you for thousands more than you paid for it, but we really would like to have him for a while first!

Following the Action

There was an interesting comment on the last post regarding a “virtual stable”.  It wasn’t so much the comment that was interesting, but the response of a member asking just what IS a virtual stable.

PERFECT!  This is exactly part of what we like to do here – answer questions and try and shed some light on the business.

A “virtual” stable is a tool at Equibase (an online statistical database of horse racing statistics).  It’s a way to stay abreast of horses that you’re interested in following.  There are several on-line services that allow you to do this and I’ll cover three here.

EQUIBASE VIRTUAL STABLE (http://www.equibase.com/virtualstable)

This free service allows you to input horses, jockeys, trainers, tracks, Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup series races, various stakes and even exotic wager carryover alerts.  You can set the frequency of your alerts and how you want to receive them.  All you need to do is register your information, select your preferences and add who/what you want to follow!

DAILY RACING FORM WATCHES (drf.com)

The DRF offers an area where you can set up watches for your favorite horses, trainers, races and carryovers.  You just need to register on the site (free) and then go to the “ALERTS” section under the “Handicapping and PPs” tab.  A little more cumbersome to use than Equibase, but effective.

HORSE RACES NOW (smartphone app)

For a while the App was free, then it was .99 and I believe it’s free again.  Once downloaded you can input your favorite tracks, horses, trainers and jockeys and then set up how much notification you’d like to receive: workout, entry, post time, results, etc.  The app also allows you to watch races live for many racetracks (including Canterbury…but not Oaklawn) which is nice if you can’t be near a TV.  The downside is that there I not a “notes” section for your horses (unlike the other two) so you can add a horse to your favorites and then forget months later why you wanted to follow him!  This may not apply to you younger members…but sure does to me!

Finally, you can follow the Club on Twitter (@CBY_Racing_Club).  While we don’t Tweet a lot, there are instances when we aren’t at a computer to post brief information but will be tweeted out as it happens.  For example, the news that we claimed K2 came on Twitter several hours before I was able to put up the post, simply because I was out all day.  There isn’t a lot “deep” information there, but it is where news tends to be broken first.

Keep the questions coming and we’ll keep on answering them the best we can!

Welcome to the Club, KIPPER KEY

KIPPER KEY, a 6-year old dark bay gelding, is our first acquisition of 2016 in what may be a record for how quickly we were able to pick up a horse.

K2 is an Oklahoma bred son of Kipling, whose claim to fame is sire of multiple Grade 1 and Breeders’ Cup Champion Kip Deville, and the Cryptoclearance mare Ethel (yes, really – Ethel!).

K2 has run 30 times (including today), racking up 5 wins, 4 seconds and 5 thirds and over $120,000 in earnings. He’s won as high as an allowance and we picked him up for $7500 today at Oaklawn, winning a 15-way shake for him. This means that 14 other claim slips were dropped and we were able to come out on top. Let’s hope that this is a good omen!

There is definitely a chance that we will take a shot with him before we come north, we just don’t know what kind of spot it will be. It will take him a few days to come down from the race and Clay will be walking him for the next four or five days to stretch his legs and let him relax. We’ll get a better sense then how he came out of the race and if there is anything we need to work on. Then he’ll head to the track to jog for a week or so before he gets back to galloping and we get a sense of where his next placement might be.

Jeff happens to be heading down to Hot Springs for a little time away himself and is going to try and get us some photos of the new guy around the barn.

Below are his lifetime past performances so you can take a look.

Congratulations and good luck!

Kipper Key pp

Out-Shook

We dropped our first claim slip today in the sixth race at Oaklawn on a mare named Congrats Honey. Congrats Honey is a 5-year old mare by Congrats out of an Honor and Glory mare, Happy Honeymoon.

She’s a steady and consistent sort, the type we like to have as a Club runner. She had been running quite a bit since her return to the races after a short break and doing so at a class level that may have been a bit high for her. We thought that dropping back into claiming company at $10,000 was a square price on her so Clay checked her out on the way over from the barn and in the paddock and went ahead and filled out the claim slip on her.

She ran a very game second at 14-1 behind an emphatic winner, verifying the faith we had in her.

There were three claim slips filled out for her, though. Three numbered pills were placed in a bottle and the three slips were numbered. The bottle was shaken and the then inverted – first pill out wins the “shake” and gets the horse.

It was not us.

So we go back and keep looking while we also keep an eye on her and see if she comes back one more time before the end of the meet as well.

Back, as they say, to the drawing board!

The Claiming Game

Now that the Club is finalized (171 members, $42,750) it is time to go shopping. The way we’ll do that is through the claiming process.

About 80% of the races held in North America are claiming races or races in which the horses are up for sale. This process was instituted to keep each race as even as possible. You certainly weren’t going to risk your prize stallion if you knew he could be had for just a few thousand dollars! Claiming helps stratify racing and keeps a few good horses from beating up on those less talented.

Claiming levels vary greatly around the country. At some country fair and rural tracks the prices can be as low as $1000 while at the larger venues there can be $100,000 claiming races. The bottom line is the same: each horse is for sale for price laid out in the conditions of the race.

There is a very specific process you need to go through to claim a horse. It varies a bit from track to track but I’ll outline the generic process below.

First, you pick out the horse you want to buy. Clay and I sort through Past Performances and check on possible targets. We’ll be looking for a pair of horses about $10,000 or less for the Club given our budget. Our criteria will be horse that has shown some consistency over a moderate (20 or so) number of starts and one that is perhaps coming from a barn that may not be as accomplished as Clay’s. In other words, something that Clay can improve upon with his training regimen.

For example, one year we claimed a horse who came from a barn where he had lost weight and didn’t receive property nutrition. Clay went ahead and laid him off for a few weeks, changed his feed, de-wormed him and then got him ready to race. He won the first time for us and then won twice more. We’d like something solid that can run every 3 or 4 weeks for us. He may not shoot up the class ladder but would be good for teaching us a bit about racing. With a solid pair we can get as many starts in as possible over the course of the season.

Second, you check the horse out in person. You can’t really walk up to a barn and say, “Hey, I’m going to claim your horse tomorrow, can I have my vet check him out?” but you do want some degree of comfort because, in most jurisdictions, claiming is the epitome of “buyer beware” because once you own the horse, you inherit everything that may be wrong with him.

So Clay takes a close look at the horse as it walks over for it’s race and his behavior in the paddock. If he sees signs of a physical ailment (sore, crooked leg, etc) that could be an indicator of future issues, we pass. If he likes what he sees, we move onto step 3.

Third, you fill out the claim slip EXACTLY and then drop it in the claim box in the racing office or the bookkeeper’s office depending on the racetrack. Any error and the claim is voided. For example, one claim slip was filled out at Keeneland Race Course but on the “track” line, the trainer wrote in “Keenland” rather than “Keeneland”. The missing “e” cost them the horse.

The claim box is locked and the claim slips time stamped. Various tracks have different deadlines to have the claim slip in: 5 minutes to post, post time, etc. When the gates open, the claim box is opened and, if you have the only claim in on a horse, it’s yours from that moment forward. Should the horse pick up a check in that race, it goes to the old owners, but should the horse suffer an injury – or worse – in the race, the horse belongs to the new owners. New York, California and Arkansas have rules to protect new owners against catastrophic injury, but very few other jurisdictions. When the horse comes back after the race, a track employee is there with a tag that is snapped onto the bridle and the horse heads off to the new barn.

Should there be more than one claim on a horse, a “shake” is instituted. In a case like this, each claim slip is given a number which corresponds to a number on a small pill/ball. The pills are placed in a bottle, shaken and tipped. The number of the claim slip that corresponds to the first pill out of the bottle wins the horse. A horse we were looking at for the Alumni group had 16 claim slips dropped on him, for example. Oaklawn, especially, is a real hotbed of claiming activity.

Over the next few weeks, this is the process we will follow to try and get at least one – and hopefully two – horses for the Club. We may be successful, we may not and half to claim here at Canterbury when the meet starts, but either way the process has begun!

If you have any questions, please fire away in the comments section. Remember, the Club is designed to be a learning experience and we presuppose no level of knowledge so there is no such thing as a bad or stupid question!

Okay…Now What?

Thanks to you all that have signed up and re-upped to join us in 2016. There are still a few “checks in the mail” so while we work through that (should be completed by the end of this week) here is where we go from here.

It looks like we are going to have approximately 160 or so members. This is slightly higher than where we were last year but still far from the record 202 we had two years back. That means we will have about $40,000 to spend so we will try and get a pair of horses that we can run through the season.

I am submitted our applications to Arkansas for licensing. Like the state of Minnesota, Arkansas only licenses owners that have more than 5% interest in the group so I will be the license holder for the group. Arkansas requires that we register as a stable name as well as a partnership and those licenses are $30 each.

Clay Brinson, our trainer, is at Oaklawn and will be looking to claim us a horse or two. Claiming activity there is hot and heavy so it may take a while to get our first horse. I will outline the claiming process and what we are looking for in a post later this week/weekend.

We should be ready as soon as possibly this weekend to start shopping. In the past we have been fortunate and been able to get a horse right away and we have also struggled a bit and not been able to get a horse until we returned to Shakopee, so it’s hard to say how soon we will have a horse in the barn. However, we start looking now!

Welcome aboard and thanks for joining us!